Spring is fast approaching and with it my eager anticipation that I may soon be in the baby peacock business. Last spring my six peahens and two peacocks were apparently too young to mate, but this year they appear to be ready to rock and roll. The males have been sporting their fans and doing their happy dances for several days now, all to gain the attention of the so-far-indifferent hens.
In preparing to write a few notes on peacocks today, I looked them up on-line to determine the proper collective noun. Three are listed in various sources: ostentation, muster, and pride. Peacocks are exceedingly proud birds, and, as such, a "pride" of peacocks is not only the most alliterative collective noun, but it makes the most sense as well. But I guess the lions have dibs on that because it appears to be only the third most common collective noun for peacocks. Ostentation seems to be the most popular name-grouping for the colorful birds.
The Oxford American Dictionary defines "ostentation" as a "vulgar display of wealth." The peacocks at Rock's Roost have no wealth to display, vulgar or otherwise, but they do spend the better part of each day posing and preening - so I guess they are more than a bit ostentatious.
My ostentation stays penned up all day - in a barn and an attached screened-in aviary - so they do not have the luxury of working the yard for bugs, grass, and other treats like the chickens and guineas do. That necessitates my bringing them their meals, much like the servants do on Downton Abbey when they wheel in the grub for their social betters. Instead of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, my very special birds get breakfast, brunch, and tea. Breakfast, at first light, is a modest serving a grain and hen scratch. Brunch, served around 10:00 a.m., consists of two or three slices of bread torn into very small pieces and scattered about in the barn (if it is raining) or in the aviary when the weather is nice. Tea is at 3:00 p.m. It begins with some protein-rich dry dog food followed by a large cup of sunflower seeds, all scattered about for easy access.
Whenever I feed the peacocks, the chickens and guineas invariably follow along to watch and beg for scraps. They have great fun peering at their big, colorful cousins through the wire mesh of the aviary, and the peafowl, in turn, also like looking down their beaks at the peasant visitors.
Yes, in reflection, I would have to admit that the peacocks and peahens at Rock's Roost are very ostentatious. Their chicks probably will be, too!